Arika Okrent treats what could be a dry subject with a healthy dose of good humor. She takes the reader on a whirlwind tour through a few of the artifArika Okrent treats what could be a dry subject with a healthy dose of good humor. She takes the reader on a whirlwind tour through a few of the artificial language movements of recent history. But rather than give a textbook chronology of who-wrote-what, she interviewed friends and family of the language inventors to give us more intimate portraits of some fantastic personalities. Best of all, she has listed 500 of the known invented languages with dates in Appendix A and then samples of translations from a few of the languages in Appendix B. I do wish there were specific footnotes or endnotes within her chapters instead of just a "further reading" list at the end, but apparently publishers think readers can't handle that anymore. Okrent, however, knew better than to patronize her readers. Her book is a witty, clever introduction to "the faded plastic flowers, the artificial languages."...more
While reading Embassytown, I remembered / realized what had annoyed me when I read The City and the City... Mieville has some of the most original story ideas of anyone writing right now, but he's also a terrible storyteller. Hardly any descriptions or explanations to give the reader a visual, and very thin character development. But those story ideas! You can't beat those. I wish he would get himself a co-writer already, someone with a sense of poetry to liven up his books. As is, I feel like I was reading a graphic novel without the graphics. Imagine that, will you?
The linguistic elements of the Embassytown story were fascinating and fun to puzzle over, though they might have become a little stretched by the end of the book. This makes for an interesting companion piece to Russell's The Sparrow, which is also a story of how we royally mess up our encounters with aliens, but Russell has a far superior storytelling gift and builds a world that the reader can easily see in the mind's eye. With Mieville, I never really saw the world he was writing about.
Despite my frustrations with Mieville's writing style, I will probably read Kraken anyway. And just as I did with The City and the City, I will think about the implications behind Embassytown for several weeks to come. ...more
Heard about this book in a few different places, found it on the New Books shelf at public library
After reading so much magic realism, I think the onlHeard about this book in a few different places, found it on the New Books shelf at public library
After reading so much magic realism, I think the only way I could have enjoyed a regular old troubled love story was to find it wrapped up as a dictionary. Levithan simultaneously apologizes for the weaknesses of the form while also showing off its strengths. There is a story here but that takes second billing to the snapshots created by each "entry" - it's like reading a collection of postcards that the writer has sent to himself over a period of two years. He has shuffled the postcards so they're all out of order, and now we're sitting on the living room floor flipping through them before they go back in their box.
p. 120 "Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough." (from: ineffable)...more